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Seeking Info On Particular Hollywood Camera Effect


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#1 Luke Smith

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Posted 24 December 2009 - 12:57 PM

Hi all.

I'm not actually a film maker per se, but a 3D enthusiast. I've seen a particular effect used in a couple of films over the last few years, specifically The Lord Of The Rings and The Matrix: Reloaded, (although I assume it's a classic camera trick). I've no idea what it's called, so I can't just look it up through Google, nor how it's done, and I want to be able to reproduce it digitally.

In LOTR (Fellowship of the Ring), the effect is used during the scene where the hobbits have just fled the farmer's field and take cover from the approaching black rider: the effect appears to push objects at the edge of the shot further away and bring central objects closer. (In The Matrix: Reloaded the same effect is used as Neo approaches Morpheus and the Keymaker at the top of the HGV to grab them before it explodes, ie. at the end of the motorway chase sequence.)
I have managed to attach a trimmed clip of the effect as it appears in the former movie to the post.

I hope someone has some idea of what this effect is and how it is produced, so I can figure out if and how I might reproduce it in a 3D application. Thanks in advance for any info. . .

Attached Files


Edited by Luke Smith, 24 December 2009 - 01:01 PM.

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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 24 December 2009 - 01:36 PM

That's a dolly / zoom combination - a long dolly track pointed forward, and a long zoom on the camera. You basically either dolly forwards while zooming from telephoto to wide-angle (making the background stretch away from the foreground as the image becomes more wide-angle) or you dolly backwards while zooming from wide-angle to telephoto (making the background compress and get larger compared to the foreground.) The trick is to time the speed of the dolly with the speed of the zooming.

Generally there is a central object in frame that you want the dolly/zoom combo to keep the same size while the foreground and background are changing shape. But since you are dollying, you have to follow-focus on the subject.
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#3 Paul Bruening

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Posted 24 December 2009 - 02:34 PM

'Round these parts it's called a "vertigo shot." I assumed that's what everyone called it. Has anyone ever combined it with subject motion? I've wondered if you put the character on a dolly as well and moco orchestrated all three movements what that might get you. And/or have a mega-long zoom made (even if absurdly slow) just for racking on a vertigo/moco rig. It could just be lenses mounted on a strong rail enclosed in a long box. It wouldn't necessarily have to include a lot of metal turning and barrel design. Linear steppers might drive the individual elements precisely. Let the computer control it and you mignt get some funky effects out of it.
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#4 Luke Smith

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Posted 26 December 2009 - 12:28 PM

Thanks, that's that explained then. I had tried lens zooms alone, but it hadn't occurred to me to try combining it with a dolly. Keeping focus should be no problem with CG. . . Thanks again.
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#5 Steve Wallace

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Posted 26 December 2009 - 12:49 PM

'Round these parts it's called a "vertigo shot." I assumed that's what everyone called it. Has anyone ever combined it with subject motion? I've wondered if you put the character on a dolly as well and moco orchestrated all three movements what that might get you...


That would be very interesting. Like those dolly shots Spike Lee does, with the character riding the dolly through the scene. Only now the background can change, and the yet the foreground object will stay rock steady.

For that to work you might need some elaborate rigging, but in a set it should be doable.
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#6 David Rakoczy

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Posted 26 December 2009 - 01:56 PM

Paul, we call it that here in the States as well. David M. just didn't use it but I am sure he knows it as a Vertigo Shot. (They) make a geared mechanism that zooms in accordance with the Dolly movement so you don't have to do 20 - 50 takes to get it perfect ;)
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#7 Tom Jensen

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Posted 26 December 2009 - 05:53 PM

Paul, we call it that here in the States as well. David M. just didn't use it but I am sure he knows it as a Vertigo Shot. (They) make a geared mechanism that zooms in accordance with the Dolly movement so you don't have to do 20 - 50 takes to get it perfect ;)


The first time I remember seeing that shot was in Good Fellows. DeNiro and Ray Leotta are sitting at a table in a cafe when Joe Pesci gets whacked.
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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 December 2009 - 07:21 PM

The first time I remember seeing that shot was in Good Fellows. DeNiro and Ray Leotta are sitting at a table in a cafe when Joe Pesci gets whacked.


First time I remember it was in "Jaws" when Roy Scheider is watching the beach. The second time was in "E.T.", the daytime shot from the hilltop of the neighborhood as the scientists search and Peter Coyote's keys end up in the foreground. The third time was in "Poltergeist" when the mother is running down the hallway that keeps expanding away from her.

Of course, "Vertigo" did it first, though it was only for POV shots involving miniatures.
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#9 Tom Jensen

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Posted 26 December 2009 - 09:51 PM

First time I remember it was in "Jaws" when Roy Scheider is watching the beach. The second time was in "E.T.", the daytime shot from the hilltop of the neighborhood as the scientists search and Peter Coyote's keys end up in the foreground. The third time was in "Poltergeist" when the mother is running down the hallway that keeps expanding away from her.

Of course, "Vertigo" did it first, though it was only for POV shots involving miniatures.


I remember the shot from Jaws but not ET or Poltergeist. Vertigo, I remember.

Edited by Tom Jensen, 26 December 2009 - 09:51 PM.

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#10 Luke Smith

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Posted 27 December 2009 - 06:16 AM

'Round these parts it's called a "vertigo shot." I assumed that's what everyone called it. Has anyone ever combined it with subject motion? I've wondered if you put the character on a dolly as well and moco orchestrated all three movements what that might get you.


I think I may have seen that combination in Coppola's Bran Stoker's Dracula, although I'd have to see it again to be sure. There's a shot where the Count is behind Reeves' character, shot from Reeves' position, and I think they use a vertigo shot in combination with the Count approaching Reeves, with Oldman standing on a trolley or something to provide the forward motion.
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#11 Paul Bruening

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Posted 29 December 2009 - 03:35 PM

Paul, we call it that here in the States as well. David M. just didn't use it but I am sure he knows it as a Vertigo Shot. (They) make a geared mechanism that zooms in accordance with the Dolly movement so you don't have to do 20 - 50 takes to get it perfect ;)


Sorry, if I misrepresented my point. I wasn't attempting to put David down. I had thought that, maybe, I was hopelessly out of fashion here in BFE and using an outmoded phrase.
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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 29 December 2009 - 11:54 PM

I've heard it called a "vertigo zoom" or something like that, but honestly, there is no "official" term in Hollywood for that effect, partly because it's not done a lot. Some directors have called it a "retro zoom" to me, others say "dolly/zoom combo", some reference that "Jaws shot" instead of "Vertigo". Some have called it "that Hitchcock zoom effect" to me.

I just call it a "dolly/zoom combo" because that's what it is.
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#13 David Rakoczy

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 10:36 AM

Sorry, if I misrepresented my point. I wasn't attempting to put David down. I had thought that, maybe, I was hopelessly out of fashion here in BFE and using an outmoded phrase.



I don't think David M. took it that way... I certainly didn't.
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#14 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 12:30 PM

I wasn't offended in any way, can't see why I would be.
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#15 JIGNESH JHAVERI

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Posted 16 May 2016 - 06:14 AM

Paul, we call it that here in the States as well. David M. just didn't use it but I am sure he knows it as a Vertigo Shot. (They) make a geared mechanism that zooms in accordance with the Dolly movement so you don't have to do 20 - 50 takes to get it perfect wink.gif

Would anyone be able to direct me to the geared mechanism that zooms in accordance with the Dolly move?


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#16 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 16 May 2016 - 07:33 AM

'Round these parts it's called a "vertigo shot." I assumed that's what everyone called it. Has anyone ever combined it with subject motion? 

 

Conrad Hall did it to pretty spectacular effect in Road to Perdition:

 


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#17 KH Martin

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Posted 16 May 2016 - 08:00 AM

Nomenclature-wise, I remember it being called a 'warp' shot, because the perspective change effectively warps the image. May have first read of it in SUPER 8 FILMAKER magazine. Man, I loved that magazine.

 

I tried doing a warp shot with miniatures for a 'going to hyperdrive' SF effect, and had a pretty interesting result, shooting both forward and reverse views of a spaceship, so you see the distortion progressing from opposing perspectives. Trouble was depth of field, as I shot the ship model against a practical (backlit) starfield, which I just about had to put in contact with the ship to carry depth of field at the point when you're most zoomed in. This is around the same time (probably 1981) I started shooting miniatures in direct sunlight; you're obviously very hamstrung by the direction of the light and it is harder to hide the model mount, but the depth of field gain was immense.

 

What I wished I had thought to do was shoot live-action interiors in the same way, so you'd see the distortion building inside as well as on the exterior.


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Rig Wheels Passport

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Visual Products

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Ritter Battery

Technodolly

Metropolis Post

Willys Widgets

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Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

FJS International, LLC

The Slider

Opal

Paralinx LLC

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Glidecam

CineLab

Aerial Filmworks